Complexities of transportation funding

People may often wonder why one transportation project starts just as an adjacent project is completed. One might ask, why were the two projects not completed at the same time?

The answer is not as simple as one might expect. In the world of roads, transit, safety, bicycle and pedestrian project improvements, regional transportation funding arrives in the greater Tucson region from different buckets, or sources, of funding. The sources include federal, state or local funding programs. The funds are derived from state and federal gas taxes, vehicle license fees or local sales taxes. Each bucket has varying degrees of funding levels based on old and new funding formulas, which can affect when money is available and when it can be programmed to address regional transportation needs. What might be difficult to distinguish is that Project A is managed by one jurisdiction and Project B is managed and scheduled by another jurisdiction. From a transportation user street perspective, people may not recognize the invisible jurisdictional boundaries and how funds can be programmed differently within each responsible jurisdiction.

The various programs come with different strings attached. Some funds can only be spent on transit, while other funds are limited to interstate highway projects. Other funds may be more flexible but they require matching local funds. And local funding sources such as the Regional Transportation Authority’s half-cent excise (sales) tax, which is collected from the RTA’s special taxing district within Pima County, provide broad flexibility on how funding can be spent over a long period of time.

View Pima Association of Governments’ transportation funding video to learn more about the in’s and out’s of transportation funding and how regional transportation dollars come together to support seamless delivery of projects across the region.